The Vietnam Conflict: In Too Deep
#1 • The Vietnamese resisted foreign influence (France, Japan, & U.S.) during World War II. They resisted in the form of guerilla warfare. Ho Chi Minh, leader of the communist Vietminh, declared Vietnamese independence from France and Japan in 1945.
#2 • President Truman tried to re-establish French rule in 1950. He granted $10 million in aid to the French in Indochina.
#3 • In 1954, the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu. That same year, the Geneva Accords divided Vietnam at the 17th Parallel. Ho Chi Minh controlled the north. The south was controlled by anti-Communists, led first by Bao Dai, then Ngo Dinh Diem. The U.S. supported Diem.
#4 • National Liberation Front (NLF) was formed in South Vietnam in 1960. The NLF was called the Vietcong (VC) by its enemies. The NLF’s goal was to unseat the oppressive Diem govt. The NLF was gaining support in the south.
#5 • President Eisenhower increased the number of American military advisors in South Vietnam, hoping to prop up the anti-Communist south.
#6 • By 1961, a full-scale war was raging between the North and South in Vietnam.
#7 • President Kennedy escalated the U.S. involvement by sending war equipment and increasing the number of advisors by 16,000 to lead counter-attacks against the Vietcong.
#8 • The U.S. supported a coup against Diem in Nov. 1963. The CIA felt that Diem had become a liability. Diem led an oppressive government and suppressed Buddhism – a major religion in Vietnam. Severely diminished his popularity. The U.S. supported the new leadership.
#9 • President Kennedy was assassinated shortly after, during that same month.
#10 • 1964 – Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. After an alleged attack by North Vietnamese gun boats on a U.S. intelligence ship in the Gulf of Tonkin, Congress passed the resolution granting full war-making powers to the president, not congress. The new president, Johnson, used that power to move the U.S. into full-scale war in Vietnam. He then sent additional troops.
#11 • Opposition to the war heated up following the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. The issues included: • Increased bloodshed • The cost of the war • Ill-defined reasons for U.S. involvement
Troops being evacuated by medics. U.S. casualties were high and ground won in battle was often lost after nightfall.
#12 • Tet Offensive (Jan. 1968) – Communist forces launched an offensive against virtually every city in the South. There was a high cost in casualties on both sides. The event outraged the American public, turning the tide of public opinion decidedly against the war.
#13 • Johnson declined to run for another term in 1968, primarily because of the unpopularity of the war.
LBJ announcing that he won’t run for reelection - Television Announcement
#14 • Robert Kennedy killed exactly 2 months after Martin Luther King Jr. Occurs after winning a decisive California primary election. His killer, Sirhan Sirhan, was a Jerusalem-born Jordanian who was upset over Kennedy’s support of Israel.
#15 • Woodstock Festival (Aug. 1969) in rural New York State. Considered the greatest event in counter-culture history.
Woodstock, NY 1969 Gathering of the crowd
The Nixon Period Vietnamization
#16 • President Nixon started the process of “Vietnamization” – a de-scaling of troops without withdrawing support of the anti-Communist south. Continued to send supplies and money.
#17 • My Lai Massacre – March 1968. U.S. troops kill several hundred Vietnamese civilians (women, children, elderly) in the small village of My Lai.
#18 • 1970 – Nixon orders the invasion and bombing of neutral Cambodia to rid it of communists who were attacking South Vietnam from within Cambodia. It was a failed attempt in the long run and caused further dissent at home.
A U.S. B-52 Bomber dropping tons of explosives - sometimes on empty jungle - in a strategy called carpet bombing.
#19 • That same year, students protesting the bombing of Cambodia were fired on by Ohio National Guard troops at Kent State University in Ohio. Four anti-war demonstrators were killed. Several others were wounded.
A young woman screams as one of four killed at Kent State lies at her feet.
The Closing Years “Honorable Withdrawal”
#20 • 1970-73 – A time of many failed peace talks. Henry Kissinger was the U.S. Foreign Policy Advisor who participated in many of these talks. During this time, there is a further decline of U.S. troops in Vietnam. All the while, North Vietnamese troops continued to advance southward. • Continued U.S. bombing of North drew ire of all parties
Paris Peace Agreement (1973) • Negotiated by U.S., N. & S. Vietnam, and the Viet Cong • Provisions: • Withdrawal of troops and swap of prisoners • Removal of foreign troops from Cambodia and Laos • Peaceful unification w/ democratic elections deciding political future of South Vietnam • U.S. to aid in postwar reconstruction • March 29, 1973 - last U.S. troops left
#21 • Broken Cease-fire agreement between North and South Vietnam • North launches full scale invasion of South • U.S. refused to respond with troops • April 30, 1975 – Pull out of Saigon. Our U.S. embassy was there. It was a desperate & frenzied exit from Vietnam, officially ending our involvement there. Very soon after the U.S. pull-out, all of Vietnam fell to the Communists.
The last Americans and some South Vietnamese flee in helicopters from the roof of the U.S. embassy in Saigon - 1975
#22 • Final Statistics – Fighting in Vietnam cost an estimated $110 Billion. 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam, 4th largest loss of life in U.S. military history behind the Civil War, WWII, and WWI.